When Professors Talk Too Fast... 

Students frequently express frustration taking notes when the professor is speaking quickly. While a fast-talking professor makes note taking more difficult, students can take steps to make sure they record all of the important information.

  • Prepare before coming to class. Read the assigned material, review previous class notes, and try to get a basic understanding of the material before going to class. This will make the lecture more interesting and easier to follow.
  • Share notes with a classmate or form a study group. Individuals may record different ideas from the lecture; combining sets of notes from your peers will provide more complete information.
  • Leave space in your notes to make it easier to add information later.
  • Develop a "lost" symbol (e.g. "?" or "Q") to insert in your notes if you get lost during the lecture. This way you can keep pace with new information and figure out after class what you missed.
  • Ask your professor for clarification if you are lost or confused about specific information. Most professors are happy to talk with students after class, during office hours, or by appointment.
  • In rare cases you may try to record the lecture (be sure to ask your professor for permission first). This works well because you can listen at your own pace later, but you have to listen to the lecture twice so it can be quite time consuming.
  • Use abbreviations! Try standard symbols, such as ">" for "greater than", or make up your own. Be sure to be consistent with your abbreviations, and to review and annotate your notes as soon as possible after lecture to eliminate confusion.